The Illinois Central: Back In Black

The Illinois Central: Back In Black

Diverging Clear Productions

Format: DVD-R

Length: 90 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1988-1989

Locations: Centrailia, Bluford, Effingham, Edgewood, Mt. Vernon and more..

Source: George Redmond

MSRP: 20.00

The Heritage Series

Illinois Central had a return to it’s roots in 1988. The former ICG had divested most of the GM&O trackage. The core ICRR was remaining. A return to the original black paint, sans ‘the green diamond’ was in progress. Hodgepodge collection of paint schemes, were to be unified with black paint, and a modernized logo.

(This program is a hardcore train video. All hardcore termed shows, are not in the same class, with the professional production companies. They do however, offer sometimes scarce railroad material. Older VHS shot videotapes, are not up to today’s standards. The rating system has been updated, to better balance the star ratings.)

George Redmond was trackside, to record the transition. Diverging Clear has it’s latest release for the Heritage Series. This program is based around southern Illinois. A map is provided on the back of the slimline DVD plastic case. This one illustration does provide a sense of direction. Chapter menu and previews are included.

The new paint flourishes. Repainting takes time. There is much to see, in the IC in 88-89.

In the 1980’s, Illinois Central Gulf had a predominately, antiquated looking roster, of motive power. A fun one to railfan, they had loads of unrepainted locomotives. Liveries of: GM&O, ICRR, plus the original ICG colors. In fact, Gulf, Mobile & Ohio had three old schemes in operation alone! The bland 1979 ICG scheme wasn’t out in huge quantities. Seems that gray paint, was the lowest common denominator for railroads new looks for the ’80’s.

  Around Chicago, many thought the CNW was the dirtiest, and most ragged fleet in town. ICG surpassed them, as far operating many raunchy looking engines, and in many colors! Naturally, these same engines traveled in southern Illinois. Back to the review…

A huge surprise, was when the ICG reverted back to IC black paint. The numbers, logo and lettering never quite captured the classic railroad vibe. The logo looked like an AT&T ripoff. Chicago Central had been using a modified green diamond, so maybe that wasn’t an option. It was an improvement over the lame gray paint. Too bad, the remaining caboose fleet was given a neutral gray makeover. CC&P had red cabooses.

              The last 2 official ICG liveries behind the new look Illinois Central black.

  George Redmond was the videographer of this show. Using a consumer grade VHS camcorder, he had filmed many railroads. He has a steady camera, and good with a zoom. The man does a nice job of filming trains. Diverging Clear has edited the appropriate tapes to create this program. Amtrak makes a few appearances too.

  A short appearance in the actual film sequence. This demonstrates part of what constitutes a hardcore/ amateur level of production. Many issues within the hardcore designation, can’t be compared to the full-time, pro level production companies. The ratings have been updated to reflect the change.

Mary McPherson is the producer. She works diligently to bring these shows out. Age, wear and technological limitations of the source tapes, are present. Seems like some color correction has been applied. Pink skies, green tint, color flaring, and such are minimized. Yellow skies, possibly a weird sunlight reaction, are in too many scenes.

  Narration and script are performed by Mary too. She is an understated style of announcer.  Much of the soundtrack is the train sound. Like other videotape originals, ambient sounds, autos, birds and the rest can be heard. The audio is pretty clean and extraneous noise is at a minimum. Back to the narrative, viewers will generally know: locations, heading and some locomotive info.

Editing is smooth. A good pace with plenty of action! An occasional slowdown brings some balance.

Pacing sequences can really bring a railroad to life. Most here have little obstruction.

                                   The paces vary in length, and an array of views.

Comparison of the Illinois Central Gulf, in it’s cheapest ICG attire, and rusting badly…

To the new image of a revitalized Illinois Central, sums up the focus of this show.

The Illinois Central: Back In Black is a nice reflection on the railroad in 1988- 1989. As is the case with the Heritage Series, one has to live with 1980’s videotape shortcomings. The scenes are well composed. Mr. Redmond demonstrates once again, that he is a very capable cameraman. This show falls into that ‘hard to find’ niche.

A good show for hardcore train fans, and another release of a road less traveled. A nice value for the  price. If you are new to the Heritage Series, this is a fine place to start!

Rating: 3 Stars


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